Mr Dugher met Tim Bowles, the Mayor of the West of England, in Bristol to talk about the music industry in the region and UK Music’s campaign to enshrine “Agent of Change” in law to protect music venues.
The Metro Mayor has wide ranging powers over economic growth across Bristol, Bath, North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire, forging collaborations with local authorities in the region.
Michael and Tim discussed the impact of music tourism in the region, the possibility of developing a Music Development Board and creating new rehearsal spaces outside Bristol. Collaboration between the industry and academic institutions in the West of England was also discussed.
Later, Michael and UK Music’s director of government affairs, Tom Kiehl, visited the Bristol’s thriving Louisiana which is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a music venue this year.
Michael met Mig Schillace who runs the venue. The two discussed the challenges of operating a venue and UK Music’s campaign to introduce a statutory agent of change principle to UK planning law.
The visit was covered by the region’s flagship BBC news show – BBC Points West – live at lunchtime and for their evening bulletin and ITV Westcountry’s news programme.
UK Music was in Bristol to promote its campaign to get “Agent of Change” enshrined in UK law. The proposal would mean that the developer of any new scheme would have to take account of its impact on pre-existing businesses – like music venues – before going with its plans.
That could mean, for example, the developer of new flats could be asked to pay for soundproofing at an existing music venue to avoid the risk of the new neighbours complaining about noise from the venue.
UK Music’s key findings on the live music industry in the West of England (covering the area overseen by Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire Council).
LIVE MUSIC IN THE WEST OF ENGLAND: UK MUSIC’S KEY FINDINGS FOR 2016
• Total attendance: 433,000
• Live Music attendance: Local people 297,000; UK tourists: 134,000; overseas tourists 1,000
• Direct music tourism spending: £17 million
• 22,000 people attended festivals in the West of England in 2016. Box office takings from these events were £3.3 million
• 292,000 people attended concerts in the West of England in 2016. Box office takings from these events were £8.1 million
• 119,000 people attended events at grassroots venues (capacity under 1,500). Box office takings from these events were £2.5m
Among the venues that have closed in the region in the past few years are the Stag and Hounds and The Cooler in Bristol.
UK Music is working with the Music Venue Trust to keep venues across the region open with their #Fightback campaign.
UK Music Chief Executive Michael Dugher said:
“Bristol and the West of England has a thriving music scene and UK Music is determined to keep it that way and has been a breeding ground for world class acts like Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky.
“Sadly, some iconic venues in the region that are a vital part of the music business ecosystem have closed in recent years and that has to change.
“We are battling to help protect safeguard the future of the venues that are the lifeblood of the region’s cultural scene. Small and grassroots venues are vital to give artists starting out on their careers a break.
“We will be pressing the Government to enshrine our plans for Agent of Change in law to help protect venues against the many challenges they face, including soaring rent and rate increases as well as licensing changes.
“It’s great that Tim Bowles, the new Mayor of the West of England, was so willing to engage with UK Music and listen to our concerns and recognise the huge contribution that the industry makes to the regional economy. We are looking forward to working closely with him in the coming months.”